April 30, 2015

Pope Frame thinks the wage gap is a shame, why don't CEOs?

There are lots of people who don't believe the wage gap between men and women really exists. And then there's Pope Francis.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis used his high profile platform to make the world realize that equal pay for equal work benefits not only women, but also families.

While making audience Wednesday at the Vatican, Pope Francis called the gender pay gap a "pure scandal" in remarks on marriage and family.

A pure scandal!

He also said it is wrong to blame the troubles of modern marriage on women's liberation. Rather he said that economic stresses are a bigger problem for marriages. Those stresses could be lessened if women were paid fairly. He is so right!

This morning, I heard a radio host speak about how her friend became a boss and realized that the men in his department were paid more than the women for the same job responsibilities. He was disgusted and asked for the women to be given a bump in salary. When his boss refused, he agreed to give part of his next raise to the women who earned less. How great is that!

It is no secret that many women still earn less than men for the same job. And when women seem to infiltrate a profession, suddenly the salaries decline. My friend recently told me that she heard the publisher of my newspaper speak about how more of the newsroom are held by women. My friend pointed out that this is because the salaries in the profession aren't rising with journalism jobs on the decline. It made me sad to think she might be right.

Just last week, American's observed Equal Pay Day, a sobering reminder that a stubborn wage gap persists. 

The National Partnership for Women & Families called the wage gap: "pervasive and punishing."

Here are some sad facts:   If the gap between the wages of women and men who work full time, year round were eliminated, a mother in the United States would have enough money for 2.4 more years of food, 11 more months of mortgage and utilities payments, 18 more months of rent, 25 more months of child care, or 6,600+ gallons of gas

Women in the European Union were paid 16.4 percent less than men on average in 2013, according to statistics agency Eurostat. United States Census Bureau data indicate women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, based on annual median salaries.

Think of the difference it could make in how women balance their work and family if we closed the wage gap. More mothers could afford to buy a car, hire a babysitter, pay their medical bills.

I wondered long ago why CEOs don't look at their payroll and make sure women and men who work the job earn the same pay. 

Members of Congress have reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, supported by President Obama, which would help break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women. How unfortunate it is that we need such legislation! The reality is simple: Two people do the same job, they should be paid the same amount.

Pope Francis gets it. Even Obama seems to get it. Why can't employers get it?

We need to close that wage gap. We need men to care that their wives, sisters and daughters are affected and that in the end, everyone pays the price. We need change and we need it now!

Do you think the pope's words will be enough to get business leaders to re-examine their payrolls? If not, what do you think it will take?


February 24, 2015

How to land a new job when you're pregnant

Recently, I watched a random episode of the House of Lies. It was my first time watching the show and Kristen Bell's character, Jeannie Van Der Hooven,  was pregnant. In the show, she plays a high powered management consultant whose firm is being investigated by the Feds. So, Van Der Hooven decides to explore her career options. That's when a recruiter pal tells her no one is going to hire her when she's pregnant. In fact, the recruiter quite bluntly advises her to stay put.

I found it realistic and disturbing.

Mary-Ellen-Slayter0008.vu_Today, my guest blogger Mary Ellen Slayter,CEO/Founder of Reputation Capital Media Services and Monster.com's HR and Careers Expert. She shares her advice for finding a job while pregnant and believes the key is to know your rights and have a plan in place before you head out to an interview. 

She offers this advice:

Looking for a job when you’re pregnant can feel like a huge challenge. If you’re not showing yet, you may feel like you need to hide the fact that you’re pregnant and will soon need some time off. If you are showing, you may feel like going through job interviews aren’t even worth it. But it’s not impossible to get a job while you’re pregnant. Here’s what you need to know.

Laws protect you


It’s important to remember the law is on your side when you’re interviewing while pregnant. “Laws protect pregnant applicants from discrimination and employers cannot require you to disclose your pregnancy,” says Cynthia Thomas Calvert, an employment lawyer and president of Workforce 21C.


Of course, your situation may be obvious. “Applicants may not be able to hide a pregnancy, or they may feel that it is better to disclose so that if they are hired they do not start their employment under a cloud of suspicion and distrust.”

Make a plan


Calvert says pregnancy discrimination is often based on assumptions about how pregnant women will or should act as employees, such as being too tired or too sick to work, taking off too much time, having "pregnancy brain" and not being committed to their job. “These biases may be open and blatant, or hidden and unconscious. Regardless, they affect the hiring process.”


She suggests saying things along the lines of, “I enjoy being a sales manager, and I want you to know that if you hire me, I will work very hard to be the best manager I can be. I am very committed to my career and to helping people who work with me to do their best. I know that we will have to work out some logistics based on my pregnancy, and I have some ideas for how we can do that.”

Believe in yourself


You are interviewing for new jobs because you believe you can do them. Let that shine through, says Janine Truitt, chief innovations officer at Talent Think Innovations LLC. “I was six months pregnant with my oldest child when I got a new job,” she says. “My advice is to have the same confidence in your abilities during pregnancy that you would if you weren't pregnant. Don't let pregnancy create unnecessary insecurities that make an employer start to second guess you.”


Finding a woman-friendly environment can help. “I have hired two women while they were pregnant. Three other women announced they were pregnant shortly after I hired them,” says Kassy Perry, president and CEO of Perry Communications Group.  She says men have asked her why she would hire a pregnant woman. “As a mother of two adult daughters, I typically chuckle and tell them that I didn’t realize pregnancy was a terminal illness and I guess I’m lucky to be back at work and successful after having two children.”


Readers, have you ever had to job hunt while pregnant? If so, what was that experience like? Managers, have you ever considered a candidate who was pregnant? What circumstances would lead you to hire that person? 

July 31, 2014

Women can become law firm partners - and have a life

As a young lawyer, Tiffani Lee found a partner who believed in her ability and helped push her up to the top ranks of Miami’s Holland & Knight. Most often, the opposite is true: Organizational mechanisms at firms push out women and people of color.

But in a room full of women and minority lawyers, I heard some great advice on how to change that pattern. Here’s an employer and employee guide for how to navigate the challenges that lead people to leave.

Inclusion: Don’t leave women and minorities on the fringes. Amy Furness, a shareholder with the lawfirm of Carlton Fields Jorden Burt in Miami, says having someone in a leadership role who recognizes and shows a commitment to diversity by his actions can help the message of inclusion permeate throughout the firm, which can be particularly important for those partners who may not be thinking about diversity when they choose staff to work on their cases. “Getting leadership involved in ensuring inclusion prevents [diversity] from becoming marginalized,” Furness said.

Accountability: It is easy to create company policies that promote diversity, flexibility and volunteerism and work/life control. But there are some partners who will tell young associates that if they want to be successful, they should not take advantage of those policies. That is where accountability becomes crucial.

Tiffani Lee at Holland & Knight, said partners at her firm are evaluated — and even compensated — based partly on how many opportunities they provide to women and minority associates and what they’ve done to support diversity and inclusion. “The only way to drive change is to factor it into compensation,” Lee says. At her firm, partners “are asked about who is on their team and how they are working with the client to ensure the team is diverse and and how they are supporting the firm’s broader diversity efforts.”

She says ties between a commitment to values and compensation happen at all levels. Associates perform a self evaluation, too. They are eligible for a diversity kudos bonus if they have done something extraordinary.

Flexibility: At some point, the success of the firm – and the diverse talent pool — will depend on whether it offers flexibility, Most associates want a reputation for getting things done; however, they want control over how and when.

“We need to change the mindset around flexibility,” Says Manor Morales, president and CEO of the Diversity and Flexibility Alliance. “When managers hear flexibility, they think people don’t want to work as hard. Flexibility is not just reduced hours but also control over hours. It’s a different way to approach work and people actually achieve increased efficiency."

At most firms, men are taking advantage of flexibility – although informally and quietly. Morales found at one firm, a senior male partner works from home every Monday, but few realize it. "Flexibility will be embraced when firms encourage people who have power to be open about how and when they use flexibility."

Succession: While most law firms have eliminated a mandatory retirement age, many of the boomers at the top will begin paring back in the next decade. As leaders retire, it creates opportunity for the next generation – and for more inclusion. Some firms already are planning ahead.

Nikki Lewis Simon, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig in Miami, says her firm has worked consciously to bring women and minority lawyers into leadership, onto the executive committee and onto committees that interact with senior management. This allows the firm to address issues of the next generation not just years from now, but today.

“I think the next generation of leaders will have a sense of mutual respect: With them, it isn’t us and them, it’s we. There’s an understanding that we all have stuff we want to accomplish outside the office.”

Transparency: Women who have made it to the top have this advice for others: Don’t over-explain.

Women tend to give a detailed explanation for why they need to leave early or work from home. “They give much more information than necessary,” says Yuliya Laroe, a lawyer and business coach. Laroe say that often hurts them when partners assume if they don’t see them in the office, they are with their kids. “We need to empower ourselves to believe it’s no one’s business as long as we have met our deliverables.”

Simon, a mother of five, says she advanced to partner while on maternity leave, and has been quite clear about her whereabouts to derail assumptions: “I let them know when don’t see me, it doesn’t mean I’m not working. It just means I’m not working here. I’m doing something to advance cause of the firm.”

Time management/work-life control: Getting to the top to become an equity partner and staying there is giant responsibility that requires the ability to bring in business and make a contribution to the firm’s bottom line while balancing home life and community involvement.

Morales tells lawyers to be strategic. “You could have activities that fill your plate but not all give you the same benefit,” she explains, adding that women tend to be on committees that don’t advance their careers. “When you’re asked, think, ‘Will this committee connect me with the right people? Is it valued in the firm? Or, is it just busy work?’”

Clearly, support for talented women and minorities needs to be evident at all levels. Says Laroe: “People don’t leave firms, they leave individual partners who make staying difficult.”

Photo by The Miami Herald: Tiffani Lee with her mentees and her mentor pictured behind her.

April 09, 2013

How are you celebrating Equal Pay Day 2013?


Equal pay day


Today, I'd love to be at a local town hall meeting bringing attention to Equal Pay Day. But I'm slammed with deadlines. (I hate when work gets in the way of fun!) So, instead, I'm celebrating Equal Pay Day by brainstorming strategic coverage I can give the topic throughout the year.

White women are paid 77 cents, black women 69 cents and Hispanic women 60 cents for every dollar paid to a white male. If women were paid equal to men, we'd be able to afford some of the conveniences that make a difference in our work life balance -- better child care, healthier take out meals, dog walkers, etc. These conveniences not only make our lives easier, they make our entire family lives better. We can't go another generation with women earning less than men for doing the same job.

Now, I ask you, what are you doing to celebrate Equal Pay Day?

It could be something as simple as talking to your children about the wage gap and encouraging them to make changes when they enter the workplace. 

It could be something as simple as writing a quick email to your state representative to let him or her know this is an issue you care about.

It could be something as simple as asking for a raise, and telling your boss why you deserve one. Or asking for a raise for your female assistant.

It could be something as simple as re-tweeting a tweet or reposting a Facebook post in support of Equal Pay Day.

It could be something as simple as wearing red today, and telling people why you are wearing red.

I'm sure you can think of lots of other things to do. Just do something and share your thoughts!


March 07, 2013

Women feel unappreciated at work. Here's how to change that.


I can't tell you how many times my husband has wanted or expected to be thanked for doing a chore I do on a regular basis. I am one of those women who at times feels underappreciated at home -- even as I try harder than ever to strike work life balance. 

American women now are experiencing that same feeling of being underappreciated in the workplace and it's time to do something about it.

The American Psychological Association reports that half of women (48 percent) feel less valued than men at work, and only 43 percent of women feel they receive adequate monetary compensation for their work (versus 48 percent of men). Moreover, only 35 percent of women think that they have opportunities for career advancement (versus 43 percent of men).

Our feeling that we're under valued in the workplace has some substance behind it. Did you know the average female makes an annual salary 25 percent less than her male colleagues?

This strong emotion of feeling that our contributions aren't appreciated may even be behind what's making us stressed -- the APA study found women report much more work stress than men, that their stress has increased over the last five years and that it causes headaches and upset stomachs.

Our big problem as women is that we tend to internalize the stress more than men. As Vivia Chen points out on her Careerist blog, "men have a fight or flight reaction" while women will "shut up and stay put."

If women are feeling undervalued at work, we should speak up. It may sound intimidating but it's probable that the men we work with or for have no idea we feel underappreciated.

John Gray, author of the soon to be released WORK WITH ME:  The Blind Spots between Men and Women in Business, found there's a big gender blindspot around feeling appreciated at work. When he asked men if they women they worked with felt appreciated, the majority answered yes. But when he asked the women they said no. Gray found the standard way of doling out recognition and praise can leave female employees feeling frustrated and overlooked. He also discovered most men are oblivious to the little gestures of consideration that make a huge difference to women.

Some also seem to be oblivious to the big gestures.

Yesterday, a large Miami law firm sent out a press release announcing that it has named 12 new partners. Of those, only three are women. I find this troublesome considering the majority of law grads and new associates these days are women. Do you think the women in that firm feel appreciated?

For many women, this fear of asking for the appreciation we deserve is a problem: we are great advocates for others, but paralyzed when it comes to doing it for ourselves. 
Going forward, we have to realize that men are not going to take it upon themselves to make us feel appreciated -- we have to shed our shut up and stay put attitude and ask for appreciation (in pay, advancement and assignments) if we deserve it.  
We've slowly begun to change expectations at home, to gain some more appreciation for our contributions. Now, we have to do the same in our workplaces.


February 19, 2013

Men are from Mars, Women from Venus: How does this affect us at work?

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with John Gray, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. 

His new book is called WORK WITH ME:  The Blind Spots between Men and Women in Business, and it applies his expertise to male/female relationships and interactions in the workplace.  His co-author is Barbara Annis, Chair of the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a world-renowned expert on workplace gender issues.  So as you can see, they’re the perfect pair to take on this topic!

I was excited to talk to John about his new book that will be released in May. 

John-gray-118-headshotJohn and Barbara have been studying the way men and women behave in the workplace and they discovered that there are big differences that cause us to miscommunicate and send the wrong signals to each other.  A little gender intelligence can help you in your career.

One thing they discuss in particular is how men and women deal with workplace stress differently.  And of course, how this bleeds over in to our personal lives.  John explained to me there are biological reasons why women respond to stress by releasing their feelings and bonding with loved ones, while men either have tunnel vision until they solve their problem, or just ignore it if it’s beyond their control.

Here are a few findings in his book that John shared with me: 

* Solving problems and achieving goals in the workplace takes a greater toll on women. Women lack testerone that naturally lowers cortisol levels. When women are stressed, they tend to take on more responsiblities. What they need to do instead, is find ways to de-stress. John suggests women up their romance quotient by planning an evening out. If they don’t’ have partner, he recommends creating an opportunity to feel they are being treated in special way, such as getting a massage.

John explained to me that gender blind spots are ways of unknowingly putting off the opposite sex in the workplace. Here is how to be more attuned to them: 

* Questions. Men think women ask too many questions. Men are annoyed by this. Women don't realize men think this way. Sometimes a woman may be making a point with her questions and have no idea she is agitated a male co-worker.

* Appreciation. Women don't feel appreciated in the workplace. Men think they are making a woman feel appreciated, but the women doesn't feel that way. Men need to more effectively communicate a female worker is valued and appreciated. Men need to understand little gestures of consideration make a huge difference to women.

* Exclusion. Women often feel excluded in the workplace when they aren't invited to attend a lunch or join in a conversation. Men don't feel excluded. They don't need an invitation. The concept of being left out does not exist from a man’s perspective. In a conversation, instead of a woman asking, "Can I say something?" just join in.

* Attention. If a man is focused on a computer screen or a project and can't shift attention, women feel offended if he ignores them. Don't. Men don't. Just ask again. A woman might even ask, "Can I have one minute of your time?" Any man will give one minute. . 

* Emotion. John and Barbara asked men whether women are too emotional in the workplace. About 90 percent said yes. They asked women if they thought women were too emotional and 80 percent said no. They found when they pointed this difference out, people said it made sense but there are lots of people in academia trying to disprove the obvious truth. Men try to avoid an emotional response but must realize that validating a woman’s perspective is more important than simply agreeing with her or avoiding her

* Internalizing. Many times men will say something and women take it personally. They may feel a man is picking on them. Men don't take anything personally. For example, 80 percent of the people who go online for porn are men. Men are turned on by the impersonal. Women want personal. A man's fear of offending female colleagues can jeopardize fruitful working relationships.

John is convinced that with a little gender insight, men and women can find ways to get what they need from each other in the workplace. 

John's website is Marsvenus.com. He says he is available online on weekday mornings from 9 to 10:30 a.m. to answer questions on gender differences. Visit the community board on his website to submit questions. 


Work with me


February 13, 2013

Do successful businesswomen struggle with romance?

Is it more difficult for high achieving women to find success in love? I set out to find that out.

In a conversation with Osmara Vindel, a Miami business professional, she told me that she is divorced and has been dating for three years. She says she came to discover her struggles in relationships were about her, not he men in ther life. She says marriage and her dating life were challenging until she led her guard down, made romance a priority, and allowed herself to get out of business mode and feel comfortable with a man. Now, one month into a new relationship, she says all is going well. With Valentine's Day approaching, maybe its time for all of us to think about our work life balance and whether we give romance the priority it deserves.

Here's my column from today's Miami Herald. I'd love to hear your thoughts....

Whether they’re dating or married, high-earning women need to leave work mode at the office.

Maya Ezratti, left, is a relationship coach and is coaching Suzette Diaz, right, a client.
Maya Ezratti, left, is a relationship coach and is coaching Suzette Diaz, right, a client.

While on a blind date, Alexandra Arguelles found herself behaving as if she were interviewing a candidate for a job.

“I caught myself asking him question after question and trying to control everything.” Afterward, she says she felt as if she had been at a business dinner.

“It’s not easy for me to be laid back,” says Arguelles, a 42-year-old sales executive at a travel IT company in Miami. “But on my next date, I’m going to try.”

Women have made huge strides in business. We have climbed to the top of companies, built million-dollar businesses and forged into traditional male professions. We’ve positioned ourselves as some of the most powerful voices in politics and on the Internet. Yet, when it comes to romantic relationships, we still struggle to make it happen in love.


Ask the growing army of high-earning women and they will say men are intimidated by their professional and financial success, making it difficult to date and marry. But relationship experts say we have it wrong. It’s not them; it’s us.

“Today’s women just don’t seem to understand you have to leave the office at the office,” says Maya Ezratti, a relationship coach and owner of Rewarding Relationships. “You can’t treat your husband, boyfriend or date like an employee.”

Fewer Americans are married today than at any point in at last 50 years, according to a 2011 Pew Research study. The causes and consequences are the subject of much debate. But what is clear is that as more women have gained economic control over their lives, they need to switch modes when it comes to relationship dynamics.

John Gray, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, says keeping romance alive in the age of female empowerment takes getting in touch with your feminine attributes: “In the workplace, to be successful, women have to be independent, self reliant, focused on solving problems and managing people. Outside the office, those attributes are romance killers.”

In dating, Gray says a woman comes across as more attractive when she puts out a vibe she is happy and that a man can make her even happier. “Men want a job. They need to be needed,” he says. But a successful women’s natural instinct may be that she can do it all herself. “Be in touch with the part of yourself that is looking to have someone in your life that would lighten your load, and be open to receiving what he has to offer.”

In Miami, Ezratti coaches businesswomen to change their approach: “A lot of women are pursing romance like business.”

First, she advises they lose their pant suit and show up in more trendy, flirty attire. Next, she suggests they let go of being competitive. “Some women have no problem ripping men to shreds to prove their intelligence. No guy wants to go out on a date and feel like a schmuck. You don’t’ have to prove anything; the quiet one wins.”

David Berry, a 28-year-old Miami writer and author of a dating blog, affirms that most of his single male friends are scared to approach women who are rich, successful, brilliant and beautiful. They assume the women won’t be interested. “We have fears approaching women anyway. Now add in that they out earn us or drive a nicer car, and we start to doubt our ability to impress them.”

Berry says a few gestures by women can make a world of difference: Smile. Show passion for what you do. Indicate a willingness to break off chunks of time for a man. Most important, he says, men want a woman to show her soft side. “I think a lot of women fight for equality in their professional lives and assume that it’s a negative to allow yourself to be vulnerable when it comes to an emotional relationship. It’s not.”

Successful women say the challenge comes in finding a man they consider a truly equal partner, someone who contributes financially and emotionally. “In this recession, I’ve seen many men who see me just as a meal ticket,” a female senior level executive explains. “I hide my career and income from men on my dating profiles. It just makes me a target.”

Arguelles, the IT sales executive, admits she feels the same way and has become pickier. “I need someone on equal footing, someone with a steady income who is ambitious and strives for goals. Because I’m self sufficient, I don’t feel the need to settle.” This could be an increasing challenge because men disproportionately have suffered an income drop during the recession.

But it is not just dating that represents a challenge for high-achieving women. Married women say they struggle with romance too.

“I have clients who are powerful and successful women. Everything they touch turns to gold except their relationship,” says Gladys Diaz, owner of Heart’s Desire International. “Their businesses are booming and their marriages are falling apart.”

Relationship coach Gladys Diaz providing tips to business women!

December 04, 2012

Why aren't women lawyers reaching the top of their firms in pay and respect?

Years ago, the American Bar Association saw cause for concern. There were lots of female lawyers but much fewer female partners. So they set up a commission to look into why.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk to Patricia Gillette, a member of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. I was prompted into a discussion with her by a gender discrimination lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court in New York against Miami's Greenberg Traurig, one of the 250 largest law firms in the country.

The lawsuit made various bold claims against Greenberg.

FranFormer shareholder Francine Friedman Griesing alleges that Greenberg pays women less, promotes them at lower rates than men and virtually freezes them out from high-level managerial positions. She says women at the firm are denied their fair share of origination credit and internal referrals. Griesing also says although she was a partner, the firm's three tiered equity structure classified her into the lowest level, while less qualified men were put in the higher, more lucrative levels. She is seeking to represent a class of current and former women shareholders at the firm. 


Her claims of gender bias were concerns I've heard before, raised by women at various large law firms including Greenberg Traurig.

So I asked Patricia her thoughts on whether women are making real progress advancing at the country's law firms and whether pervasive gender inequity remains a problem. Patricia mentioned that the current ABA President Laurel Bellows initiated a gender equity task force this year to address bias against and equal pay for women in law.

Patricia said in recent years, the tiered partnership -- equity and non equity -- has been problem for women lawyers. It has been a way for large law firms to claim they have women partners but hide the fact that they are not promoting women into equity positions where they truly share in the profits and management decisions.

In October, the National Association of Women Lawyers came out with an revealing report:

  • It found that law firm structure has important effects on women's career paths and that they have a greater chance of becoming equity partner in one-tiered firms. Meanwhile, women are increasing clustered in positions with little opportunity for advancement in law firm leadership.


  • It also found women's compensation lags men's at all levels with the greatest discrepancy at the equity partner level, where women typically earn only 89% of what men make. The gap between the median compensation of male and female equity partners cannot be explained by differences in billable hours, total hours, or books of business.


Gillette says the ABA gender equity task force wants firms to rethink way they consider compensation, making it less subjective. A goal is to create a model law firm compensation policy to ensure women are paid equally to men.

“This has been sacred ground and firms don’t want anyone messing with compensation, but closed systems like Greenberg lead to mischief. We think putting transparency into compensation systems is imperative going forward,” she said.

Don't expect firms to readily buy in.

At Greenberg, all compensation decisions are made by CEO Richard Rosenbaum, with input from other shareholders.

Greenberg's Hilarie Bass said the firm’s compensation system has always been based on meritocracy that has nothing to do with gender. “We’re compensated based on value to clients and quality of our legal work. We prefer a closed system because it enables a more collegial atmosphere to exist.” Bass also said every year the the number of women who are big originators of new business increases as does the number of women who receive top compensation.

Still, with a closed system, it's difficult for women at the firm to confirm that to be true.

Gillette said this lawsuit may help Greenberg and other firms realize they need to work harder on getting more women into positions of leadership. While she acknowledges that there are some women lawyers who don't want to reach the top tier at their firms, she says many do. “We’ve been talking and begging firms to look at these issues for so long,” Gillette said. “I’m sorry it takes a lawsuit for firms to think about this but lawsuits are the only thing lawyers understand." 

Do you believe gender discrimination is present at big law firms? How much of pay inequity and lack of advancement is from women pulling back, seeking better work life balance, and how much of it is the way law firms are managed and structured?


September 04, 2012

Talking to girls about equal pay

As my daughter heads into her junior year of high school, she's starting to think about what career might interest her. I ask her questions, listen to her answers and try to give her hope that whatever profession she chooses, she will be happy. But will she be paid fairly?

It sickens me to think that one day my daughter may land the same job as one of her brothers, and get paid less to do it. How do you explain that to a young woman?

Today, an article caught my eye that reminded me that the next generation of women will inherit the need to fight for equal pay. What do they need to know to take on that battle?

They need to know who Lilly Ledbetter is and what she accomplished and why her name is associated with equal pay.

LillyLilly Ledbetter became a rare female manager in a man's industry in the 1980s, as a supervisor at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant in Alabama. She sued the company for paying her less than her male counterparts and took her lawsuit all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. She lost because the court ruled that she should have filed suit within 180 days of her first unequal paycheck--despite the fact that she said she had no way of knowing that she was being paid unfairly all those years.

Her name has become well known because of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which loosened the time frame in which people could file pay discrimination charges.

Today, I read a Workforce.com interview with Lilly Ledbetter, who now is 74 years old. I wanted to share some of the highlights:



Workforce: How have things changed in the workplace from the '80s and '90s to today regarding pay equality?

Ledbetter: Not enough. We still don't have enough women at the top. They're still being held back—and they've got great education. And we don't have enough women in politics, in Congress, either the House or the Senate in Washington. And the corporate boards don't have enough women or minorities on them to make a difference.

Things are changing. One of the things that makes me the happiest is to get invited to go speak to a group of new hires or a corporation about integrating women into their operations, and to encourage young high school and young college women and minorities to go into engineering, the sciences, mathematics—get those degrees. Companies are learning that the makeup of the workforce is so much stronger when they have both men and women.

The young men get it. I go to a lot of college campuses to talk. I'm almost as popular with the young men, because they talk about their mothers and their sisters—how they've been held back. I've heard so many examples. They understand when they get out of college, if they get married, they need a wife working, and they need her to be paid fairly too.

Workforce: What should employers know about equal pay?

Ledbetter: It's very simple. If you treat people fairly and equitably, you've got nothing to worry about. And it's also a win-win situation, because when employers make it pretty well-known that everybody's being treated equitably and fairly for their work, they have a better team. They have people who are more enthused about coming to work. They don't stay out of work. They can't wait to get there. If it's a service business, when you walk in it's hard to tell who the owner or the manager is because of the other team people working so hard. And if it's a manufacturing environment, they put out a better product—more productive, less scrap. And they don't stay out of work. The absentee and the safety records are almost perfect. It's just a 'win' situation for the families of this nation as well as the corporations and employers.


Over the next few months, we're going to hear political candidates debate on various topics. We will hear talk about women's issues, family issues and unemployment. We will hear candidates try to garner support with stories about how they were raised by single mothers and understand the plight of working mothers. I'd love to hear one of the explain to young women -- our nation's future mothers -- why they will graduate college, work hard, and still get paid less than a man.

My daughter recently asked me if women business owners and female executives pay their female employees the same as they do their male workers. I told her the truth: I don't know the answer. I'd like to confidently answer yes. But I can't.

Should I tell my daughter women are making progress in gaining equal pay? Just this June, the Senate failed get enough votes to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have required employers to demonstrate that any salary differences between men and women doing the same work are not gender-related. It also would have prohibited an employer from  retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers.

To be sure, equal pay is gaining traction as a hot button issue. Clearly, Lilly knows we're not there yet and unfortunately my daughter now knows that too. But I told her what I hope other parents are telling their teenage daughters -- pursue on.





March 28, 2012

Men, Women, Money, Power

Richer Sex, Mundy jacket FINALOn Monday, I called Liza Mundy for a chat. I felt like I could have talked on the phone with her for days. She has just finished two years of interviewing men and women about work, family, money, power, marriage and decision making. Her findings are in a newly published book called The Richer Sex.  I LOVE THIS TOPIC!!!

I included some of my interview with Mundy, along with interviews with female business leaders, into my Miami Herald column today on The Richer Sex. Assuming present trends continue, Mundy believes that by the next generation more families will be supported by women than by men.


I asked Liza if she thought women were uncomfortable being called "breadwinners," traditionally used to describe men.

Women who outearn their husbands might feel uncomfortable with the term, she says. But those that earn all the income in their families would be comfortable being called a breadwinner.

I asked her what has changed in the last decade and why she feels the next generation of women will outearn men.

They are outearning men because they are going to college and are better educated, she says. "Guys think they will graduate from high school and get a decent paying industrial or labor job and they are wrong. Single childless women in their 20s have a higher median income than their male peers."

Are women entrepreneurs contributing to The Richer Sex trend?

Women  businesses are doing well. A lot who start their business, do it because they are not getting enough flexibility from their institutional workplace. Sometimes, their businesses do so well that they hire their husbands.

What are the conversations going on in America's households about downshifting and raising kids?

For working parents to reach the highest levels of Corporate America, either the workplace needs to change or someone needs to have flexibility or be the stay at home spouse. Workplaces can only do so much. I know fathers who want to spend more time with kids.

 I asked one of the women I spoke with whether she feels she missed out by being the sole provider. She doesn’t feel that way. Because her husband is such good runner of the household, when she gets home from work she can devote time to family. She is the one with the rich vacation benefits and the long workdays but her husband is supportive and she feels she is an attentive mother.

You mentioned more households are being supported by women. How will this affect women's salaries?

I would hope that ultimately it would put pressure on employers to understand that women are breadwinners and not look at their income as supplementary. As men become more aware of their wives' earning potential and are more willing to move for them, I hope it will help women's negotiating ability. Still, there is a danger of women supporting households on less than a man would make.

Do you think there's a dollar threshold that a spouse reaches which causes the other to quit their job?

Not really. It can depend on whether you live in D.C. or New York or Detroit. Every city is so different.

Is the notion of a stay at home parent outdated? It seems everyone has some type of side job today, even if it's blogging or selling things on the Internet.

It can work out well if a husband stays home or the wive could turn around and say this is not guy thought I was marrying. Stay-at-home dads numbers are rising, but some still feel stigmatized. I found wives would inflate the prestige of their husbands' hobbies. If they were blogging, the wive would refer to it as a  potential book project. I think women were brought up to brag about their husband’s job or salary. The former definition of success was to marry well. 

Is there a lot of arguing over who stays home with the kids?

I found there's more arguing over who had to be one with the steady paycheck and who got to be the entrepreneur. Men are seeing the benefits of a wive with a steady paycheck.

How is the fact that women are becoming more educated affecting marriages?

Women have never had this level of education greater than men. They are looking out at a pool of young men and they will have to ask, "Will I marry guy who didn’t’ go to college?" Some will say yes. I interviewed a carpenter who is putting his wife through law school. I also interviewed a women who wants to marry man who did go to college and is going to great efforts to meet one. She lives in  Miami travels to New York where she thinks there's a bigger pool of mates. Someone who wants to marry guy on her level will use resources to find them. Some will marry down and accept early on that they are the primary earner and find a guy who will invest in their career.

Why aren't men getting college educations?

Women were told they needed more education to earn as much as men so they acted accordingly. Girls are hearing have to go to college and support yourself. You may be a single mom. Boys aren’t hearing the same message. Boys think they have to be the provider, so they leave after high school to get any job.

 Click here to read the Time Magazine articleby Mundy on how women are overtaking men as breadwinners and why that's good for everyone.

Mundy author photo - credit Sam Kittner

Liza Mundy



 Here's another interesting take on Mundy's book: Daily Mail: Next generation of women to outearn men 

According to the TIME magazine cover story, 40% of working women out-earn their mate and within 25 years women will make more than men across the board.

Readers, how do you think this will affect marriage, family, workplaces and buying decisions?